How Does Beatrix Potter’s the Tale of Peter Rabbit Use Picturebook Techniques to Tell a Story?

How does Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit use picturebook techniques to tell a story?

The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a true picturebook in that you need both picture and text to tell the intended story. It is a book that I think Beatrix Potter intended both parent and child to read together. The pictures, rather than the text, dominate the page. A child could look solely at the pictures and get an idea of the story but the text adds more detail and fills in the gaps. The print is linear, uniform in size and quite small in comparison to the pictures. The illustrations support the text but do not tell the whole story. An example of this is the simple picture of Peter walking through Mr McGregor’s garden. The text explains further that Peter was ‘feeling rather sick’ and that ‘he went to look for some parsley.’ You would not get all this information from the picture alone.
          The idea that the illustrator helps the reader to extract the intended meaning is something discussed by Parkes who states that   ‘signs are embedded in the illustrations’ and that ‘illustrations compliment and extend the written language bringing characters, settings and events to life’1.
          The illustrations have a very real feel to them; the soft pastels used are realistic colours that are true to nature. We know straight away that there are different types of birds in the story; a robin, sparrows and blue tits. The birds share Peter’s adventures and a repeated theme in the pictures throughout the book is the idea that all the birds are Peter’s friends, especially the robin. They are always pictured close by in the adventure; encouraging Peter not to give up when he is caught in the net, showing him the way to the gate and gathering around the captured blue coat and shoes that Mr McGregor is using as a scarecrow. This seems to be the moment that Peter reverts back to behaving like a wild rabbit running on all fours. The anthropomorphic mixture of rabbit and human seen...